The Medfield Energy Committee is recommending that the Town of Medfield become a Green Community under the terms of THE green Community Act.
August 30, 2013
Medfield Board of Selectmen
452 Main Street
Medfield, MA 02052
Dear Board of Selectmen,
The Medfield Energy Committee (MEC) recommends that the Town of Medfield proceed with the application process for qualification as a Green Community under the Massachusetts Department of Energy Resources (DOER) Green Communities Program.
The Town of Medfield has had great success in reducing municipal energy use by more than 20% over the past 5 years. The Town is continuing to reduce its municipal energy use as well as exploring ways of produce renewable energy in town through such methods as photovoltaic installations.
The Town strongly considered applying for Green Community (GC) designation in 2011, but was unable to convince all Town entities to support the effort and two articles on mandatory GC criteria were withdrawn from the 2011 Town Meeting Agenda.
The MEC feels it is time to renew the effort to become a Commonwealth Green Community. There are several reasons that preparing for a 2014 Town Meeting adoption is more likely to succeed:
1. In 2011 the Planning Board did not support a Green Communities designation because it required adoption of a Stretch Energy Code (an optional Appendix of energy efficiency measures to the MA Building Code 780 CMR) that required new buildings over 3,000 square feet be 20% more energy efficient. The current Stretch Energy Code that the Planning Board objected to has since been adopted by the BBRS as the State law beginning in 2014. The MEC will educate residents on the implications of adopting the stretch energy code prior to a 2014 Town Meeting vote, so that they can make an informed decision. As of May 2013,132 MA municipalities have adopted the new BBRS stretch energy code.
2. The “carrot” in Green Communities designation is to receive grants from the state to promote “green” initiatives in the Town. More than $20 million in grants have been awarded to the 103 communities, with another million worth of energy projects going to the 7 most recent communities (that is $142,800 I community on average). In 2011, the MEC had not yet identified a specific use for the money it would have been eligible to receive under the program. In 2014, the MEC and Town are investigating the feasibility and benefits of generating renewable energy through installing solar PV arrays on municipal property.
3. In 2011, we were not able to adequately craft a procedure in time for vote at Town Meeting that would update the Zoning Bylaws table of use regulations to allow for the siting in designated locations of Renewable Energy – generating facilities, or R&D facilities, or manufacturing facilities – that adequately met the “as of right”
siting and expedited permitting requirements. In 2014, we would have the zoning bylaw language approved by the Medfield Planning Board and the DOER Green Communities division before we asked the town to vote on it.
4. In 2011, the Town’s land use tables were antiquated but since then, the end use tables have been updated to reflect modern industry. This in turn will clarify the process needed to make “as of right siting” and expedited permitting for renewable energy generating facilities viable in the correct area(s) in town.
5. The other 2 elements of qualification for a Green Community were ready for application without objection:
• The plan for 20% reduction in municipal energy use within 5 years from a new baseline of 2012 could be updated. We want to take credit for the energy efficient measures we have implemented in the last couple of years. Given the Town has achieved so many energy savings already in the schools and other municipal buildings, waiting any longer to qualify as a Commonwealth Green Community will make the 20% savings goal going forward that much harder to attain.
• The energy efficient vehicle fleet inventory and plan would be pdated and submitted to this board and the school committee for approval.
6. The Town can benefit from the experience of the 110 cities and towns across the state have met the 5 qualifying criteria and have been designated as Commonwealth Green Communities since the GCA was created in 2008. The MEC will solicit feedback from neighboring GC towns including Westwood, Sherborn, Medway, Ashland, Dedham, Weston, Newton, Hopkinton, Wayland and Sudbury. The benefits and reasons for being designated a Commonwealth Green Community remain the same as in 2011. Passing the stretch code will lower energy costs and greenhouse gas emissions for newly built homes and commercial buildings in Medfield for the life of the building. Amending the zoning bylaw to encourage alternative and renewable energy generating, R&D and/or manufacturing would signal to developers that the Town is interested in having clean energy technologies consider locating in Medfield’s industrial zone. A Green Communities’ designation would also make more state funds available for use in Medfield buildings for energy efficiency and renewable energy measures that would save the taxpayer money for the life of the buildings. Massachusetts towns have received between $100,000 and $900,000 in grants last year.
The Medfield Energy Committee seeks the approval of the Board of Selectmen to proceed with Green Community Designation. With Board of Selectmen authorization, the MEC will present the case for Green Community designation with all Town Departments. The MEC will be asking for each of the Town Departments in advance to support the application for Green Community designation at the 2014 Town Meeting.
Marie Nolan, Chair, and Medfield Energy Committee Members:
Lee Alinsky, Fred Bunger, Penni Conner, Fred Davis, Cynthia Greene, David Temple, Emre Schveighoffer, Ryan McLaughlin, Adam Graber
Charles Kellner, Michael Sullivan, Osler Peterson as ex officio members